Microsoft exec: AI will reinvent the Windows user experience and define ‘our time’

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Microsoft is all about artificial intelligence (AI), whether it’s updating to Windows 11 or the future “Windows 12” platform.

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this month, Microsoft Chief Product Officer Panos Panay said that AI is “the technology that defines our era” and that it will be a key part of the future development of Windows. said to play a role.

Panay said at AMD’s CES keynote, “It’s like nothing you’ve seen before. It’s transforming the industry and improving our daily lives in many ways. , some things you can’t see, and we’re at an inflection point right now, at this very moment, because computing from the cloud to the edge is becoming more and more intelligent and more personal. It’s where we are, and it’s all done by harnessing the power of AI.”

He also covered AMD’s new Ryzen 7040 series chips, the first to feature dedicated AI hardware in an x86 processor, and how that hardware platform will help Microsoft introduce next-generation AI-powered software. .

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AMD Chairman and CEO Lisa Su is on stage at CES showcasing Ryzen chips with native AI.

Windows 11 already has aspects of AI built-in in areas such as system management, search optimization, speech recognition and dictation, grammar correction, and even media enhancements like noise suppression and camera image processing. However, most of these features are enabled through cloud services. For example, according to Jack Gold, Principal Analyst at J. Gold Associates, a search through Bing initiated on a Windows desktop has the ability to find, process, modify, and associate video and audio with other data. Similarly, it is handled in the Microsoft cloud.

“The question is, how does an AI accelerator in the CPU give Windows the potential for increased automation and performance? If you could, you might be able to perform those functions,” says Gold. Added.

Currently, PCs don’t have dedicated processors for neural processing, so it has to be piggybacked on the GPU or run on the main CPU. This limits the extent to which companies such as Microsoft are pushing the boundaries of local AI processing, said Stephen Kleynhans, vice president of research at Gartner.

“In the next few years, we expect AI engines to be as common as embedded GPUs in PCs. At that point, Microsoft and others will be more aggressive in finding new ways to leverage AI engines. My guess is that many of the AI ​​enhancements are done behind the scenes and you never actually notice them directly.

“It’s often said that the best CGI in a movie is the one the audience doesn’t realize is CGI,” says Kleynhans. “Well, the same goes for AI enhancements.”

Coaching and technical support will also become more AI-enabled. Microsoft, PC OEMs, and his IT group at the company will likely use it to reduce ongoing costs of supporting users, improve user his experience, and improve security. says he Kleynhans.

“Cortana may be back!” he said.

Another benefit of having AI capabilities on the CPU is that fewer functions need to be offloaded to the cloud for processing, so less data bandwidth is required and latency in retrieving results is lower. to be shorter.

This also means that cloud processors are offloaded, “and then you can do other things,” says Gold. “It also means less personal and sensitive information has to leave the machine, potentially preserving privacy.”

Gold believes that over the next year or two, users will see more and more AI in Windows 11, adding more AI APIs and making them available to applications and third parties.

“Search is obvious, but it also includes video processing, natural language processing, and machine automation. These are all areas where AI needs to be enhanced,” says Gold. “Perhaps Windows 12 with next-generation AI is Microsoft’s bigger master plan, explaining recent rumors that Microsoft is interested in acquiring OpenAI and integrating ChatGPT and Bing. ”

One of the issues Microsoft has to deal with is that not all chips have AI acceleration. At least not in the short term. Windows also needs to run on all kinds of processors, from low-end Pentiums to Intel’s Core i9 (and AMD equivalents), so enhanced AI features run on all versions of Windows. should be

“They don’t want to start forking with multiple Windows versions,” says Gold.

Windows 11, released in October 2021, had only about 17% penetration by December 2022, according to web traffic analysis site StatCounter. Meanwhile, Windows 10 usage dropped to 68% over the same period.

(Microsoft announced last week that it will stop selling Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro on its website after January 31, 2023.)

In some ways, Kleynhans said, Windows 11 was a victim of bad timing, in that it began to mature in the market when PC sales started to decline.

“Like any new OS release, most people buy new hardware and get it first. There is even,” he said.

“The good news is that most companies have completed early planning and testing and are moving into pilots,” Kleynhans said. “In the next quarter or so, we expect new enterprise purchases to remain mostly with Windows 11 and stay that way. We are trying to be more aggressive with the implementation, but there is no rush.”

There will be future versions of Windows regardless of current penetration. As for whether one will be called Windows 12, Kleynhans said, it’s at the whim of Microsoft’s marketing department.

In October, Microsoft confirmed that it would change its OS update frequency. Big updates happen every three years, but the company regularly adds new features and experiences to Windows 11, similar to its past “feature experience packs.” These smaller, more frequent changes are called “moment” updates, Microsoft says.

“This was how the Long Term Servicing and Server releases were handled, so not much has changed or been new,” Kleynhans said. “Giving a version a public name has many implications for the market, but it is most beneficial to the consumer market where the ‘new and improved’ helps sell new PCs. For the corporate market, updates will continue he once a year. “

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.


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